With local beer, pickles, kombucha and more, fermented foods are brewing all over Asheville.
Soon, cider will become part of that list. Come fall, Urban Orchard Cider Bar will open on Haywood Road with about four craft ciders on tap, plus beer and wine. “It's just an addendum to the whole fermentation scene,” says Thom Miller, who owns the business with his family.
The Asheville natives hope to create a product that's local from the tree to the glass. They'll use apples from Henderson County, and eventually, from their own orchard in Weaverville. They'll brew and serve the cider in the former Communications Workers of America meeting hall across the street from Short Street Cakes.
The brewing operation will set up in the basement, and the cider bar will occupy the ground floor. Around the building, they'll plant a small apple orchard, mostly for ornamental purposes. “A lot of people like the idea of edible gardens, and I don't think we'll be stingy with our apples,” says Josie Mielke, Miller's daughter and business partner. “If people want to take them and have a snack, that's OK.”
Mielke hatched the idea for a cidery with her husband, Shiloh. They were looking for a gluten-free alternative to beer. Their interest in cider led them to The Cider and Perry Academy in Harpury, U.K. While abroad, they traveled the region trying different varieties.
Urban Orchard's ciders will take inspiration from the traditional, English-style brews that Mielke sampled on that trip. The draft selection will focus on Champagne-style-dry and semisweet varieties, and Urban Orchard will also offer a still cider (without carbonation). “That's how it was traditionally made,” Mielke says.
In addition to cider, the bar will serve beer, wine and light snacks. “It's just a place where you can get some cider with your friends and some local snacks and chat for a while,” Mielke says. If the renovations to the building go as planned, the family hopes to have cider in the tanks by mid-summer and open their doors by early fall.
Meanwhile, Noble Cider, a local wholesale company, is getting ready to begin distribution. Part-owner Trevor Baker estimates that the cider will be on tap by late spring at approximately 10 restaurants and breweries.